The "Song of Songs" is at first glance, a love poem. But it is a love poem that constantly shifts between genders, mixing male and female in a way that liberates it from one side or the other.
On a deeper level, the lush poetic imagery uses ideas and terminology all taken from the Torah: "your hair is fragrant" like various ingredients of the temple incense; your thighs are sturdy like the towers of the temple; your countenance is like the walls of Jerusalem. This is a love poem that includes not only male and female, but the Holy Ancient One, the Creator Before Time.
Many parts of Shir ha Shirim are included in the prayer service, or adapted into songs such as Lecha Dodi, sung to welcome the Shabbat Bride. Shir ha Shirim is read just before the Kabbalat Shabbat service every Friday, and also on the second day of Pesach. Rashi calls it the "Holy of Holies."
"My love peers through the lattices" - "meitzitz min ha charakim" - G-d is hiding in the tzitzit, the fringes, longing to catch our attention.
"My love peers through the lattices" is a line that is used in the Kedush Levana - the sanctification of the moon. The full quotes used in the Kedush are: "The voice of my beloved - Behold! It came suddenly, leaping over mountains, skipping over hills. My beloved is like a gazelle or a young hart. Behold! He was standing behind our wall, observing through the windows, peering through the lattices!" [Song of Songs 2:8-9] and "Who is this who rises from the desert clinging to her Beloved?" [S.S. 8:5] When contemplating the new moon, these are some of the images we summon.
The first 8 clips are a complete version with a tune and harmonium accompaniment; the last clip is all eight parts together, including the blessing said after reading the Shir.
I accompany the reading [clip 9] with Tibetan bowls, chimes, thumb piano, and recorded didjeridoo sounds. I have made an effort to make these sounds ambient: inobtrusive but interesting.
[The first 8 clips are sung with accompaniment by a harmonium, and last about 45 minutes. Clip 9, the non-musical-read version, is 30 minutes long].
Rabbi Shefa Gold has some great commentary on the Shir ha Shirim Here.
Curate note: Judaic content.
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